BUFFALO, NY - Benjamin M. Wassell, the Chautauqua County man who the New York State Attorney General identifies as the first person to face prosecution for violation of the SAFE Act signed by Governor Cuomo in January, has hired a prominent Buffalo law firm to defend him.
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Michael S. Deal , of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP confirmed for Two On Your Side that Wassell, a Iraq War veteran who is charged with a variety of weapons counts, retained his law firm on Thursday, but offered little comment regarding the case.
"There are various issues we need to look at at this early stage of the case," Deal told WGRZ-TV. "We are in the process of our initial review with our client and the Attorney General's office," Deal said.
Wassell is expected to appear back in Hanover Town Court on Wednesday morning after his inital appearance earlier this week.
It is expected that many eyes in the legal community will be focused on the case, due to its connection to one of New York's newest and most controversial statutes which toughened its gun restrictions.
"Every criminal case has issues," said Deal. "Clearly this case is based on a new law, which is also contentious and which itself is being litigated," Deal said.
The case will be prosecuted by lawyers from the Attorney General's office rather than by the Chautauqua County District Attorney.
Michelle Hook, Deputy Press Secretary for NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, explained that the decision was made (to have the A.G.'s office prosecute) due in part to the fact that the case was initiated by an Attorney General's investigation, which was conducted in cooperation with the New York State Police.
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